James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Contact your reps in Congress now

There are at least three urgent reasons to contact your senators and representatives in Congress now. This week. No later than Wednesday.

First, we taxpayers -- as opposed to the rich, who pay very little in taxes -- are about to bail out giant financial institutions throughout the country by buying their little-value and next-to-worthless assets at premium prices. At the same time, the rich guys who milked those institutions, and us, for billions in personal income already have begun their fight to keep the government from -– finally, and far too late –- imposing meaningful regulation of their activities.

The New York Times reported Saturday on the great cry arising from hedge fund managers and other billionaires who find it intolerable that the government is imposing restrictions on short selling of stocks. That's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Bits and pieces that have shown up in obscure reports over the past month indicate –- and it is entirely in character; virtually inevitable -– that the financial industry is sending out its armies of lobbyists to fight any attempts to regulate them.

Remember, the guys who run and ran those giant scam factories have made fortunes almost too large to comprehend and they have lost little or nothing of what they've taken. As soon as possible, they'll begin new cons.

In essence, since we're bailing them out with our tax dollars, we're going to be paying the untold millions they will hand over to their lobbyists and funnel to members of Congress in various ways to prevent Congress from protecting us from their future abuses.

We must not let this happen, which means we have to lean on every member of Congress constantly until we have genuine regulation of financial industries.

Second, the bailout package – the present estimate is $1 trillion, and that's almost certainly low -- must include regulation of executive pay and should include penalties for the billionaires who brought us to the brink of ruin. So far, they're still walking away with tens of millions of dollars when they lose their jobs, and that doesn't include the extremely excessive compensation they've received while driving their institutions into bankruptcy.

Members of Congress must hear the demand for justice, and cash, over and over from thousands of us, the people who pay for everything.

Third, get ready now to fight the inevitable assault on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and dozens of other programs that benefit taxpaying citizens. Tell your members of Congress now that you will not tolerate cuts in those programs.

You'll be asked what you would do, then, to provide the money for the bailout -– which very soon will be referred to only as “the national debt” and “the deficit,” rather than a bailout. Tell them: Start by forcing the billionaires to pay taxes. Bring back the money hidden in offshore accounts specifically to avoid paying rightful U.S. taxes. Shut down the absurd and costly tax cuts the Republicans have given the very rich, and, if at all possible, go after the back taxes they owe. It is insane to allow the richest Americans to pay nothing or next to nothing in taxes.

Trickle down? We've been trickled on, all right. The financial collapse is at least partially a result of that “trickle down.”

I'm guessing the first hints of a right-wing drive to drastically cut social programs will be heard within days of the passage of a bailout package for financial institutions.

I will be out of town for a couple of days. More on these topics soon after I get back. Keep your eye on economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. He's doing more than hinting about what's going on these days.